Motorist Valdis Labeckis jailed for killing pedestrian Paul Carwithen in New Year's Eve crash in Maidstone
by Julia Roberts
A speeding motorist who killed a pedestrian as he walked home
hand-in-hand with his girlfriend in Maidstone in the early hours of
New Year's Day has been jailed for five years and four months.
Latvian Valdis Labeckis (pictured right) was said to be driving
up to 60mph and was almost one-and-a-half times the legal
drink-drive limit when he lost control of the BMW that struck Paul
Carwithen and Maria-Louise Cook as they were walking home along the
lower end of Postley Road and Old Tovil Road.
Mr Carwithen, of Linley Close, Maidstone, was thrown into the
air and over the car before landing on the rear windscreen.
The force of the BMW then colliding with a stationary Audi sent
the 34-year-old through the glass and onto the rear passenger seat,
Maidstone Crown Court heard. He died of multiple inuries at the
Miss Cook was said to have been "catapulted" into nearby trees
before landing on the ground.
Her right leg was shattered in 56 places and she also suffered a
double fracture to her left leg.
The court was told she is now in a wheelchair and it could take
up to two years before she walks again.
The couple, who worked together at Morrisons supermarket in
Sutton Road, had just been dropped off by a friend having spent the
evening watching the New Year's Eve firework celebrations in
Paul Carwithen was killed
in a crash in Maidstone on New Year's Day
Labeckis, 21, of Old Tovil Road, Maidstone, had also been with
friends celebrating the end of the year whe he offered a young
woman a lift home.
He borrowed the car from a friend and was said by one of his two
female passengers to be "showing off" during the short half-a-mile
Prosecutor Nicholas Alexander said Labeckis ignored both women's
pleas for him to slow down.
He was driving along Sheal's Crescent when he lost control of
the car on a bend, mounted the pavement and hit Mr Carwithen and
Miss Cook from behind at about 2.30am.
Mr Alexander told the court that neither had been aware of the
BMW approaching them.
Maria-Louise Cook was
seriously injured in a crash in Old Tovil Road, Maidstone, on
New Year's Day
Labeckis admitted causing death by dangerous driving. Jailing
him, Judge Philip Statman said he regarded the offence as being in
the most serious category, despite contrary submissions from both
prosecution and defence.
"I am satisfied that this case involved the consumption of a
substantial amount of alcohol leading to gross impairment," he
"If you were not grossly impaired by the consumption of alcohol
you would have been able to appreciate the safe speed at which this
particular bend in the road could be negotiated."
The bakery operative, who has been in the UK since 2011, was
also banned from driving for five years and ordered to take an
extended test before reapplying for a licence.
The prosecution's case was that Labeckis was driving between
52mph and 60mph when the speed limit was 30mph.
Charlotte Newell, defending, disputed the figures but
conceded his speed had been excessive.
A back calculation of his blood-alcohol level gave a reading of
113milligrams of alcohol in 100millilitres of blood. The legal
limit is 80.
Miss Newell told the court, which was packed with friends and
relatives of both Mr Carwithen and Miss Cook, as well as
Labeckis, his driving that night was "an act of enormous folly
with tragic consequences".
The scene of the fatal
crash in Old Tovil Road
She added his remorse was genuine and the accident had had
a profound effect.
"I do not suggest in any way, and neither does he, that his
feelings are comparable to the victims, not just those injured, but
all those adversely affected by his actions," she added.
"What he wanted me to say to the court is one word, and it is
sorry. It is not lip service but it is real and demonstrable by his
actions at the scene and his immediate admission to driving."
The court heard Labeckis, who had a driving licence and was
insured, had tried to help Mr Carwithen as he lay "half in, half
out" the BMW's rear seat.
"He was upset and in shock, and was heard begging Mr Carwithen
not to die," said the prosecutor.
"Police officers also heard him say: 'What have I done? I have
Labeckis's passengers were also hurt in the accident. Monta
Kovisade, who was in the front seat, suffered a cut hand and glass
in her foot.
Linda Rubine, who was sat in the back, broke her wrist and had
cuts to her nose and bruising.
Mr Alexander explained her confusion at Mr Carwithen landing on
the rear seat.
"She was unable to understand how it was that a male was beside
her in the car when the vehicle came to a stop."
Miss Cook was in court at the start of the proceedings, but left
within minutes and remained outside throughout the hearing.
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